The Old Coot visited the 1950’s

I had a throwback Saturday this past weekend, 1950’s style. Saturday chores for a working father; mow the lawn, make household repairs, empty mousetraps, wash the car. Those sorts of things. 

I started by washing the cars (plural). That was a rarity back in the 50’s. Most households were “nuclear” with working dads, stay at home moms, 2.5 kids. The car was the “family” car. 

I started by taking out the rubber mats, revealing pristine carpeted floors. It wasn’t like that back in the 1950’s. Most cars came with a cheap, black, rubber floor covering. A carpeted floor was rare, a luxury, something to be bragged about. Most car floors today are carpeted, but usually hidden and protected beneath rubber mats, preserved for the next owner, just like those living room sofas that once were protected by fitted, clear plastic coverings.  

Washing a car in the 50’s was finished off by shining the chromed, steel bumpers. No more – ours are plastic and don’t shine and can hardly withstand a bump in a parking lot, costing anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000 to repair or replace. Those old steel bumpers could withstand a substantial bump and could also be used to brag about where the vehicle had been. 

A bumper sticker that said, “This car climbed Mt, Washington,” for example. 

Lawn mowing, the second chore I undertook on my throwback Saturday, was done with a power mower. In the 1950’s a hand-powered reel mower did the job. The edge trimming, that finished off the chore was done using hand powered clippers. Sidewalks were rid of clippings with a broom, not a noisy leaf blower. It was an era when you got your exercise without going to a gym. 

Saturday was also a day for haircuts, grocery shopping and trips to department and specialty stores for shoes, clothes and lunch in the store’s cafeteria. Most stores stayed open late on Thursday evenings in many communities, with special sales to lure shoppers into town. It took the pressure off people’s Saturday agenda because Sunday shopping was out of the question. It took the pressure off people’s Saturday agenda. 

Only pharmacies and an odd gas station or two were open for business on a Sunday. It was a day of rest, a break from the hassle, reserved for church, family dinners, relative visits and Sunday drives, which are frowned on today, considered bad for the planet. People dressed up on Sundays and young boys like me got in trouble for the grass stains on our pants from skidding into second base in a sandlot game of baseball. 

Yes, it was a different world in those days, but my throwback Saturday was a delight. Try it sometime. 

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